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#XenoMarch Organisers blame violence on Atteridgeville protesters

The group says although they had welcomed people from Atteridgeville who wanted to join their march, they later separated because of disagreements.

Groups of protesters moving through the streets of Pretoria on 24 February 2017. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

PRETORIA - The Mamelodi Concerned Residents grouping has distanced themselves from what they call acts of hooliganism by residents of Atteridgeville.

The group says although they had welcomed people from Atteridgeville who wanted to join their march, they later separated because of disagreements.

Mamelodi residents headed to the Home Affairs Department to hand over their memorandum.

But the Mamelodi Concerned Residents march continued despite clashes on Friday morning between police and protesters in Marabastad.

The group said it had no intention to attack Somali nationals who also took the streets and blamed the acts on people from Atteridgeville.

GALLERY: #AtteridgevilleProtest: Stones, burning tyres block roads

Violence started in Atteridgeville early on Friday morning with several main routes out of the township being blocked.

Many of those protesters later made their way into the city.

Hundreds of people walked while other were transported by bakkies and taxis.

Some people covered their faces with shirts and balaclavas, carrying sticks and other weapons.

ZUMA ON MARCH

President Jacob Zuma said the march in the Pretoria city centre was about crime and not about xenophobia.

The president spoke in the capital at the launch of a government initiative amid protests. Zuma appealed to South Africans not to blame all criminal activities on foreigners, calling for threats and counter threats on social media to stop.

He also reportedly described the demonstration as well organised.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has summoned South Africa's top diplomat to discuss fears about the fresh wave of violence against immigrants in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria has called on South Africans not to fuel tensions between locals and foreigners.

Earlier it was reported that police in Nigeria were guarding MTN offices in the capital Abuja after protesters against xenophobic attacks in South Africa tried to storm it on Thursday.

According to the BBC, offices were sealed off.

#XenoMarch #Foreignermarch gathering outside Department of Home Affairs in Johannes Ramokhoase

A post shared by Eyewitness News (@ewnupdates) on

FOREIGNERS FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES

Non-nationals in Pretoria say they are now even more fearful for their lives after some protesting groups attempted to attack them earlier on Friday.

They say they blame the South African government and President Zuma for not doing enough to protect them.

Police prevented a clash between foreign nationals in Pretoria West and Atteridgeville residents by discharging rubber bullets earlier on.

While some non-nationals say they are ready to fight, one woman says she is pleading for mercy.

Although the anti-immigrant march is now over, police are still patrolling the area to maintain order.

One foreign national says it’s clear the march is no longer about crime but xenophobia.

“We stay here, we don’t do drugs, we don’t do prostitution or sell anything illegal. We stay here legally and mostly we’re from Somalia. We don’t do illegal things.”

One Somalian says there is no reason for locals to use violence on foreigners.

“Us Somalians are being attacked by South Africans and we are innocent. We don’t do drugs and we don’t steal.”

Another man was attacked by foreigners earlier.

“I lost my phone, they just started attacking me and I was just standing there watching like everybody else.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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